Nothing justifies the attempted lynchings of recent days, by Arabs or Jews, says Netanyahu, vowing to restore order in Israeli cities.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a stern warning to the citizenry against taking the law into their own hands after days of Arab rioting throughout the country and attempted lynchings on both sides Wednesday.
“What is happening in Israel’s cities over the past few days is unacceptable,” Netanyahu said. “We have seen Arab rioters set fire to synagogues and vehicles and attack police officers. They are attacking peaceful and innocent citizens. This is something that we cannot accept; it is anarchy. Nothing justifies this and I will tell you that nothing justifies the lynching of Jews by Arabs and nothing justifies the lynching of Arabs by Jews.”
“We will not tolerate this,” he continued. “This violence is not us. We will restore administration and governance in Israel’s cities everywhere, in all cities, in the Jewish-Arab integrated cities, in Jewish cities, everywhere.
“To the citizens of Israel I say that I do not care if your blood is boiling. You cannot take the law into your own hands. You cannot grab an ordinary Arab citizen and try to lynch him – just as we cannot watch Arab citizens do this to Jewish citizens. This will not happen.”
The personal attacks turned deadly on Wednesday, when in Acre, a 30-year-old Jewish man died after Arabs attacked him with sticks and rocks. In the latest incident, on Thursday morning, a man walking to synagogue was stabbed in his shoulder in Lod, barely a day after hundreds of Border Police were sent in to restore calm due to the extreme rioting in the mixed Arab-Jewish city.
On the other side, also in Lod, an Arab woman in her 39th week of pregnancy was hit in the head Wednesday night. She was rushed to the Assaf Harofe Hospital’s intensive care unit in serious condition; the baby was delivered safely. A crowd of Jews was filmed beating an Arab driver in Bat Yam, south of Tel Aviv, seriously injuring him after his car rammed into vehicles in a crowded street. Near Or Akiva, north of Netanya, dozens attacked another Arab driver, seriously injuring him as well as heavily damaging his car.
There have been innumerable cars set on fire and rock-throwing incidents, almost all by Arabs, both within Israeli cities and on highways throughout the country. In the Galilee, a resident of the Jewish village of Moreshet, which lies between three Arab towns, posted on Facebook that Arabs threw stones and set fires on the nearby roads on Wednesday night.
Police set up roadblocks to prevent Jews from traveling home, she said, while Arabs were allowed to go on driving. Her neighbors had to find shelter overnight in other towns, she wrote, expressing her disbelief.
Over 370 rioters, both Jewish and Arab, have been arrested by police and security forces in the last day, and Netanyahu promised that law enforcement would only get stricter.
“I have ordered the police to adopt emergency powers, to reinforce with Border Police units and, of course, to impose curfews where necessary,” he said.
“I also intend to bring in military forces according to the existing law and we will pass an additional law if necessary,” he added, to give the police and soldiers “the necessary powers and forces to carry out the mission.”